Detroit — Manager Brad Ausmus talked about moving the struggling Nick Castellanos out of the second spot in the Tigers lineup before the game on Wednesday, but he felt at the time his replacement options were limited.
“I wouldn’t mind moving Nick, but the question is, who would I hit there?” he said. “J.D. Martinez is swinging it well where he is and Justin Upton is good where he’s at. Plus, I hit Upton there last year and it was disastrous. I hit J.D. there, too, and it didn’t go that well.
“The guys who are the options for hitting second, none of them are swinging it great right now.”
That was before Tyler Collins broke out of his 0-for-30 skid with a pair of home runs and reached base in five of his last eight plate appearances entering play Friday.
So, on Friday, Collins was in the two-hole and Castellanos was dropped to sixth.
“Maybe it will take some of the spotlight off of him and he can maybe get his stroke back,” Ausmus said.
Castellanos has three hits in his last 30 at-bats with no extra-base hits and just one RBI. He’s hit a lot of balls hard with no results during this stretch, including seven warning-track or to-the-wall fly outs in the last eight games.
“We’re not looking for him to do anything (extra),” Ausmus said. “We just want to see if we can get Nick swinging the bat the way he was earlier. If he does start swinging the bat well, I will gladly move him back up there.”
The decision to recall right-hander Buck Farmer from Toledo, at least upon a second review, was a no-brainer, even though he is taking the roster spot of designated hitter Victor Martinez (paternity leave).
Initially, catcher-first baseman John Hicks was going to get the call. But with the Tigers’ bullpen taxed by throwing 211/3 innings in the last five games, the more prudent move was to bring up a fresh arm for the weekend series against a hot-hitting Rangers team.
“Those guys have been used a lot lately,” Ausmus said. “Alex Wilson, Justin Wilson, Shane Greene, Blaine Hardy. In a perfect world, they could all use a day. They aren’t all going to get a day but in a perfect world, they could use one.”
Farmer has been having a strong season at Toledo. In eight starts, he’s posted a 3.51 ERA, 1.29 WHIP with 47 strikeouts and just nine walks. Much of the damage against him has come in the sixth and seventh innings.
“It’s been a pretty good season so far,” he said. “Just hope I can come up here an help them out if need be.”
Farmer is in the process of developing a fourth pitch. His fastball, change-up and curve have been reliable pitches for him. He used to throw a cutter-slider hybrid, but he’s abandoned that for a slider.
“It’s an actual true slider,” he said. “It’s slower and bigger. It’s still a work in progress. I’ve had a couple of outings where it’s been very good and I’ve had some others where, you know, it’s been just another pitch for them to see.”
Farmer was returned to the Mud Hens after the game and will make his Triple-A start in Toledo Saturday. Hicks was recalled.
“We just needed an extra arm to cover us today,” Ausmus said.
Is it unrelated?
Ian Kinsler (hamstring) and Miguel Cabrera (back and oblique), two of the Tigers’ players who participated in the World Baseball Classic this spring, have been injured. Right-handed minor league pitcher Joe Jimenez (back) has also gone on the DL.
Around the league, other WBC participants started the season on the DL — Drew Smyly, Didi Gregorius, Martin Prado, Seth Lugo, Roberto Osuna.
But to Ausmus, the issue has been blown out of proportion.
“Every time somebody gets hurt that was in the WBC, they blame the WBC,” Ausmus said. “Let’s talk about all the guys who didn’t get hurt that played in the WBC. There are probably a lot more.”
Unless the player was injured while playing in the tournament, Ausmus doesn’t think there is any correlation to playing in the WBC and injuries sustained a quarter of the way through the season.
“I think there are a lot more people who played in it that aren’t hurt than are,” he said. “And as many injuries as there are in baseball, especially with the new 10-day DL, I think it’s becoming magnified and it doesn’t hold water.”
Around the horn
Only two pairs of teammates who share the same last name have homered in the same game as many times as Victor and J.D. Martinez. The two did it for the 16th time on Thursday. They have a way to go to catch Andruw and Chipper Jones (59) and Brooks and Frank Robinson (24).